I get anxious just thinking about what it’s like sitting in a waiting room at a doctor’s office. In waiting rooms, I pretend to keep myself occupied and distracted with just about anything. I mindlessly flip through hundreds of pictures on Pinterest or “read” the celebrity news from the outdated magazines that are in front of me. I can look like I’m busy on my phone and may appear calm and collected, but I’m far from it.
The anticipation in waiting rooms is enough to blast my anxiety into a spiral. I hunt for every possible distraction just to keep from staring at the clock’s evidence of slowly dragging time.
The most challenging feeling during this waiting? Worry over the unknown. Once the receptionist finally calls my name, countless what-ifs await me on the other side of the office walls. I obsess over the things that could happen. This type of anxiety is difficult to break free from. I’ve grown accustomed to such thoughts and feelings.
When I was younger, my anxieties and worries about doctor’s appointments had some type of end. Once appointments finished, a weight lifted from my shoulders. I could go about my days before my next appointment without worrying much about what came next.
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As I got older and doctors diagnosed me with more conditions like pulmonary hypertension, a lot of that changed for me. Most of the past few years have aroused the same worrisome emotions felt in a waiting room. Having a chronic illness that demands extreme care and attention makes me dread the next upcoming “thing” waiting around the corner, whether it’s a test, procedure, surgery, or a simple follow-up appointment. I’m in a constant state of anticipation of what’s to come.
Waiting for the next “thing” to happen makes me anxious, worried, and frustrated. The difference between my current experience and childhood is that leaving the doctor’s office doesn’t mean the worries are put on hold. When I leave the doctor’s office, I know the space between then and the next appointment will be eventful for my health.
When life feels like a waiting room, I lose touch with reality. My worries keep me from doing things I really want to do. I become sharply aware of my health’s state. That forces me to ponder my future and all that it holds obsessively. The bottled anticipation and worries invade my brain, and “the next thing” is all I can think about.
There are still times when the “wait” feels too much for me to handle. I am now able to notice when the stress begins building up so I can guide my mind to a better place before worries escalate out of my control. I have learned that anticipating something and being nervous about an upcoming life event is “normal.” It’s not in my best interest to isolate myself to the point where I can only think about what I anticipate. It’s important to stay “in the moment” as much as possible to live each day instead of only staring down a clock.
When life feels like a waiting room, it’s helpful to plan something to look forward to during the week, especially if it’s hard to keep my mind off what I’m “waiting” on. Even if I don’t have the energy to go out, ordering something online that I’m looking forward to, renting a movie and planning a movie night, and making small goals for myself during the week keeps me focused on the here and now instead of what’s to come.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.